Story Review: A Bluebird's Song · 1:28am
Description (from story page):
Every rising star must eventually fall. Rainbow Dash is locked in a struggle against her own past, and with the help of Twilight is about to make a discovery that will change the way she flies forever. But what will she lose in the process?
For each facet of a fan community, there is eventually one fan fiction that stands-out and defines itself as the standard to which all other stories will be held. For the sub-genre of FIM fan fiction regarding the character ship known as "Twidash," Ardensfax's novel A Bluebird's Song claims this distinction by more than a narrow margin.
A common theme among Rainbow Dash-centred stories is the mare's attempts to reclaim her speed record after it's been broken by another - usually unseen - pony. A Bluebird's Song is no exception to this. However, another element is added when Twilight accidentally confesses her love to Rainbow during an impromptu counselling session, feelings that Rainbow has long felt for Twilight but was afraid to mention.
Twidash or otherwise, both ponies are determined to get Dash's title back, and Twilight eventually discovers a mechanism for pegasine flight that she feels will put Rainbow on the fast track to victory. The pair's work does not go unnoticed for long, though, and they soon find themselves trapped in a deadly web of conspiracy that has ties even to the Equestrian throne. It isn't long before the rest of the Elements are ensnared in the events orchestrated by a small number of ponies who will maintain a millennia-old status quo at any cost.
The novel is weighty, clocking in at an intimidating 205,000 words (roughly 650 paperback pages), and the story's pace is slow until only a few days before record attempt in Cloudsdale. Once the narrative gets up-to-speed, however, you realize that you forgot to set the brake back in Ponyville, and the remaining 300 pages will be a nerve-wracking ride that keeps you turning the pages and on the edge of your seat in suspense.
While Ardensfax admitted that the story was originally intended to be a ship fic, the speed record story arc eventually took on a life of its own, and the two stories interweave themselves almost seamlessly by the time of the record attempt. Instead of the romance becoming a story that could stand on its own - as is done in so many other romance stories - the relationship between Twilight and Dash slowly becomes the underlying reason for the two characters' determination to reclaim the speed record. Through the elated triumphs and all-too-frequent disasters which befall the heroines, their feelings for one another are what pushes the plot, driving the characters to act in ways that they never imagined themselves acting.
A Bluebird's Song is really a story less about Dash and Twilight and more about the motivational value of love when properly realized between two characters. While it starts very slowly, readers will appreciate the gradual acceleration which continues through progressively important and gut-wrenching events, and how these events are both completely unavoidable and yet unnecessarily powerful due to the emotional connection between the Dash and Twilight.
If you like ship fics that reveal themselves to be much more than a simple pairing story, then A Bluebird's Song is a must-read.
OVERALL GRADE: B (above-average)
VISION: B (above-average)
Themes clearly defined, with "love conquers all" and "chase your horizons" standing out front. The minor theme of tolerance - specifically tolerance for same-gender pairings - is admirable and mostly in the background, but it is overplayed and a bit heavy-handed at times.
ORIGINALITY: C (average)
In the end, this is yet another Twidash fic. It follows a common, general premise for Dash fics and blends it with another common, general premise for Twidash shipping. No unique ideas were added to the idea of Twidash, but Dash herself was given some amazingly detailed history, adding new dimension to her character. The contribution to the relationship between Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy was also fresh in its execution and details, and it added to the story overall.
TECHNIQUE: C (average)
This was the weakest aspect of the story. Numerous grammatical and spelling errors recurred throughout the text (including a highly annoying conjoining of the words "thank" and "you"). Worse, the romance scenes between Dash and Twilight, and later between Rarity and Fluttershy, were drown out far too long for their content. It doesn't take long for the romantic scenes to feel repetitive, unending, and uncomfortably awkward.
IMPACT: B (above-average)
Of the four parts to the novel, part 1 was excruciatingly slow. It took a lot of willpower to continue reading until the beginning of part 2 where the story takes off, demanding continued attention. Part 3 will leave you with bated breath at every turn, and the level of suspense written into every detail of the environment oozes from the pages. By the end of part 4, you will wish the already-massive novel was even longer, as the relationship you've built with the characters has become personal. At the story's close, you're left with the feeling that you were there at the ponies' side for the whole ride, and turning the last page of the epilogue feels almost like saying goodbye to an old friend.